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Movie Review | Black Panther [2018]

When it comes to Marvel Movies, I am a complete novice. So my initiation into this iconic world of superheroes is Black Panther. A good start. I can understand the hype - it is more than a movie - I get that. It represents an ideology and a worldview.

It has all the ingredients for a successful story:

  • Black empowered feminists;

  • The arrogant bad guy, Ulysses Klaue, who is a white Afrikaner Captain Hook/one-armed bandit;

  • The smart-mouthed antagonist, N'Jadaka, on a power trip;

  • The American coloniser, Agent Ross, who is rescued and saved by Wakandans;

  • A Disney philosophy : 'You can be whatever king you want to be;'

  • Nakia, the strong-willed and independent love interest;

  • Princess Shuri, who brings some sassy comedic relief and of course,

  • Our reliable and likable protagonist and hero, T'Challa.

For me, most of the characters were stereotypical and one dimensional, except for M'Baku, leader of the mountain tribe, the Jabari, who brings an interesting dimension to the plot, Okoye, the All Female Special Forces General and then of course, T'Challa, whose strength comes from his humaneness and hero qualities rather than from his superhero qualities which give credibility and a refreshing vulnerability to the plot.

A quote near the beginning of the movie proved to set the scene: 'It is hard for a good man to be king.' The plot was fast paced and multi-layered with unpredictable and unexpected twists and turns. The cinematography and visuals were spectacular. The fighting and battle scenes were riveting, suspenseful and not drawn out. Each supporting character played a significant addition to the story, enriching it. Themes of loyalty, betrayal, family, sacrifice and patriotism will always have an audience. Spiritual motifs were prevalent throughout the movie: needing a saviour, ('Is this your king to lead you into the future? ' mocks N'Jadaka after stabbing T'Challa in the side and defeating him), praising the ancestors, calling on the ancestors and going to the ancestors. There were definitely Lion King overtones to the movie. Ultimately it is the idea of the 'Wakandan Dream', a type of African Utopia, with its philosophy that 'The wise build bridges, the foolish build barriers,' which I believe has movie goers riveted and people talking.



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